Submitted to: American Journal of Potato Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 23, 2012
Publication Date: October 6, 2012
Citation: Defauw, S.L., Larkin, R.P., English, P., Halloran, J.M., Hoshide, A. 2012. Geospatial evaluations of potato production systems in Maine. American Journal of Potato Research. 89:471-488. Interpretive Summary: The sustainability of Maine potato production systems has been a major concern for at least the past 35 years due to several interrelated factors including soil erosion, degraded soil quality, high potential for soilborne diseases, and traditional short rotations (2- and 3-year) with crops that do not produce significant cash flow. Geographic information systems (GIS) data assemblages were used to update and map soil erodibility risks as well as track crop sequencing in potato-based systems. Several crop rotation options were identified that substantially improved net farm income and soil quality. Geospatial frameworks help resolve patterns and trends in production environments (at multiple scales) that may, in turn, facilitate the wider adoption of adaptive management strategies which enhance yield, increase whole-farm profitability, and foster sustainable land use. This research is useful for growers, extension personnel, and scientists, providing updated information on farmland soils use as well as the benefits and economic impacts for select alternate crops.
Technical Abstract: Maine consistently ranks in the top ten potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production areas though yields are substantially lower than the mid- and western USA. Geospatial frameworks help resolve patterns and trends in production environments (at multiple scales) that may enable improvements in adaptive management strategies which enhance yield, increase whole-farm profitability, and foster sustainable land use. Results from geospatial integration of remotely-sensed cropland (2008-2010) and soil datasets for Maine indicate an estimated 61,900 ha in potato production with 62% and 27% on prime farmland (PF) and farmland of statewide importance (FSI), respectively. Geospatial analyses of other agri-environmental indicators indicate close to 85% of these potato production soils are classified as either “potentially highly erodible” (PHEL) or “highly erodible” (HEL); therefore, at least 52,300 ha require the highest standards in soil conservation practices. Crop rotation patterns for potato, derived from the time-series geo-referenced datasets, help resolve actual cropping practices and facilitated evaluation of the benefits and economic impacts for select alternate crops.